Living in a place they both love and hate, New Yorkers say the city's beauty and ugliness—reaches far beyond the sets1 of America's most popular TV shows and movies.
New York City is known as America's economic and cultural capital. It's a city where young people want to go, whether to take up a high-paying job on Wall Street, study, or struggle to pay rent while working in the arts.
It's also the setting of some of America's popular TV shows and movies. The best known may be TV series “Sex and the City”. It features four aspiring2 women enjoying the comfortable life of chatting, shopping, clubbing and looking for their Mr. Right3.
However, Dunham, 26, said TV shows only scratch the surface4. “TV shows never get how expensive things are in New York,” she said, adding that she knows a married couple who are in their 30s, have good jobs, and still share a couch because their apartment is so small.
To Dunham, reality in New York means getting a quick lunch at food stands, smelling the stinking5 piles of rubbish every week on trash day and paying tolls to cross bridges and tunnels—things that TV shows rarely capture.
Elish Glick, 23, an artist living in Brooklyn6, said that while New Yorkers can sometimes be unfriendly, it's often because of their nature as driven, ambitious individuals.
“People here are mostly young and single.” Glick said. “I kind of admire it, not settling down. They're here making sacrifices, offering themselves, being creative and providing intelligent input. A lot of people are confident and know what they want.”
25-year-old legal assistant Jin Jing agrees. During her three-month experience as a United Nations intern7, Jin found New Yorkers to be friendly and helpful people. But she also learned that the TV show “Friends”was fantasy8.
“When I went to America, I realized that ‘Friends’ was not real life,” Jin said. “In New York, people have no time for friends. People have no time to hear you talk.”
But Jin said she didn't feel like a stranger, thanks to the diversity9 all around her. “Most of the time, I forgot that I didn't belong there.” She said.
While Dunham admits that life in New York can be both good and bad, special moments help her fall in love with the city all over again.
She once paused to watch dancers and street musicians performing in a subway tunnel and found herself among many other busy New Yorkers attracted by their show.
“People who were clearly in a rush to get home just stopped to watch because these guys were really good,” she said. “From businessmen to mothers—everyone was represented. In that moment we were all together before we went our separate ways.”
1. set n. 摄影棚；外景